Have you ever considered how food could affect your fertility story? Chances are if you’ve been a part of the Low Tox community for a while then yes you have, but often we’re confused as to which foods and how to incorporate them so we figured we’d share a few ideas. Each nutrient that we find in whole, unprocessed foods leads us that little bit closer to making a healthy baby. We come from nature, thus eating produce from nature, rather than packets from labs, makes the most basic of sense if we’re to create a beautiful, natural new little life. Pretty magical, hey? I and our in-house naturopath Steph have collated some of our favourite foods below to help you on your merry fertility way. For a more extensive list and meal plan, you might fancy joining us on our pocket course that you can start any time: Preconception Ninja, where we explore the major building blocks for optimising your fertility from food to sleep, to stress, to toxin reduction, to the best clinical tests and troubleshooting if you’ve been on the journey for a while. We’ve had a few women through who are loving it and having such important discussions, supporting each other in the private group, so if pre-baby is where you’re at, consider jumping in!
Now… let’s get onto some fertility all-stars, shall we?
1. Dark leafy greens: Dark leafy greens are rich in folate, and when generously drizzled in some olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper they’re readily absorbed by the body and totally delicious! We need folate prior to and during pregnancy, specifically for its contribution to reducing the likelihood of birth defects and spinal cord issues in bub. But know this, it’s super important that you get your folate from the sources that are right for you. Taking a supplement with folic acid could actually be doing you more harm than good, specifically, if you have any of the MTHFR gene snips. By no means should you stop your Dr-prescribed folic acid supplement, but you can learn all about that in my podcast, here to see if it’s perhaps worth investigating for yourself. To combat any potential issues with folate absorption, we always have a huge plate of greens with lunch and dinner to make sure we’re getting our fill! So, where possible – bulk out main meals with plenty of dark leafy salad leaves or lightly sautéed greens like spinach, silverbeet and kale. Add an extra handful of mint or parsley into a smoothie, request a side rocket salad at the cafe, add a couple of handfuls into casseroles or soups, when they’re not even in the recipe… It’s a super simple add-in, once you start to see the possibilities of little opportunities here and there.
2.Oysters: Now, oysters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, although they sure are mine… if you wanted a quick and effective way to get your zinc levels up, this is it. Two oysters contain more than your recommended daily intake of bioavailable zinc. Zinc is an essential trace element and works specifically on DNA and protein synthesis and most importantly, it works on the development of healthy sperm formation and effective ovulation. So in order for all the “bits and bobs” to be working and the baby making to happen, men and women need a healthy dose of zinc every day.
3.Avocado: Yes, we’re giving you the best excuse to continue ordering your smashed avo at brunch, you can buy us breakfast to say thanks! Eating avocado in abundance all year round will give you a healthy dose of monounsaturated fatty acids as well as over 20 essential nutrients. Contrary to what we’ve been told, the fats found in avocados are actually hugely beneficial to the health of our hormones and can aid fertility. When it comes to fat – avoid the “trans” fats, so anything which is generally deemed “processed” or “junk food” and found in a shiny packet containing a non descript, untraceable vegetable oil, is a definite no-go.
4.Grass fed, pasture raised red meat: Women need plenty of iron-rich red meat pre and post pregnancy for energy production, transportation of oxygen and the transmission of nerve impulses. The good news is you don’t need to be consuming red meat every single day. We always recommend that people invest their pennies in a good quality, grass fed, pasture raised portion of red meat 1-2 times a week rather than chowing down on something daily that hasn’t been consciously and ethically raised. Our suggestion for your next hearty meal is this vibrant Lemon Lamb and Lentil Soup.
5.Sweet potato: When we talk about sweet potato for fertility not only are we focused on the abundance of nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus. We’re also celebrating its slow release carbohydrate status for insulin management, energy production and hormonal balance – especially if you’re experiencing amenorrhea (no period) due to over exercising, hormonal imbalances or recovering from an eating disorder. Now, let it be said, this is not a license to smash three croissants… but 100g or so of sweet potato daily is a fabulous carbohydrate-rich option. While you’re here check out these Sweet Potato Fritters and these super delish Sweet Potato Fries.
6.Mixed Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries): Berries are gloriously rich in antioxidants and so delightful on top of some yoghurt or in a smoothie. Where budget and seasonality allows, opt for the organic varieties as most berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides. The good news: antioxidant rich berries bind to free radicals in the body and reduce oxidation. Eliminating these nasties can improve your bodies ability to synthesise essential nutrients required for fertility and overall health. These are an easy handful on the go, extra handful over your breakfast or into your smoothie, blend with frozen mango for a little instant-icecream or our nutty blueberry icecream recipe – SO good!
7.Wild Caught Salmon: Oily fish like salmon and sardines are rich in essential fatty acids. We need essential fatty acids for hormone production, reduced inflammation and to keep our bodies reproductive mechanisms in tip-top shape. Always opt for wild-caught varieties as they are generally more ethically fished and they aren’t treated with artificial dyes or fed pellets of food that unfortunately often contain things such as genetically modifed soy in them – not quite the natural fishy’s diet, is it? The great news is that if you don’t live in an area that has wild caught salmon available, it can be found tinned at the supermarket “Wild Alaskan Salmon” and then you can make these delicious fish cakes with them for a super inexpensive crowd-pleasing meal.
8.Full-fat dairy: We mention the importance of fat in the sections on avocado and salmon above, but studies have also shown full-fat dairy may increase the likelihood of fertility when compared to low fat dairy options. Need some foodies inspiration? Try this Spiced Semifreddo, and yes, we did just tell you to eat ice cream! If dairy is a congesting food for you or an ethical choice not to, don’t panic, there are plenty of ways to get your fats into the mix but the point is a processed skim milk isn’t a great contributor to essential nutrients for fertility.
9.Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds, namely walnuts, pepitas, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds (only when freshly ground) and chia seeds are all full of minerals, essential fatty acids, zinc and vitamin E. We talk about the benefits of zinc and essential fatty acids above in the section on oysters and salmon. Nuts and seeds are also a fabulous source of high quality protein when sprinkled in a salad or over your porridge (especially if you lean more to the vegetarian way of eating). Protein is essential for cell repair, growth and hormone modulation. Remember you can shop The Wholefoods Collective for 30% off your organic pantry staples, for just a $59 membership per year!
10.Water: Ok, so not quite a food, we know. We’re cheating a bit here… but water is SO important! When it comes to hormonal balance, having adequate water to support detoxification processes will ensure secondary hormones are able to be excreted efficiently. What’s more, water improves circulation, facilitates the formation of cervical mucous, supports the endometrial tissue and balances energy levels. Listen to your body to determine how much water you need, but we’d say a minimum of 1.5L of filtered water daily is ideal… add more if you’re a vigorous exerciser or a big coffee/black tea drinker. PS we go into lots of depth on why filtered water is so great for fertility in our Preconception Ninja Course .
This, we must admit, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to food and fertility… If you’re intrigued and want to learn more then join me in our Preconception Ninja Course where we cover off not only the power of good food but also the importance of lowering your toxic load, de-stressing, mindfulness, gut health, clinical testing and out of the box trouble-shoots, to increase your chances of a successful conception and a smooth pregnancy. We also have a delicious (and very pretty!) meal plan and a whole host of fertility inspiration recipes for you in there!
Do you have any fertility foods that your mum or grandma insisted helped with baby making? We’d love to hear about them! You might have heard my recent chat on the podcast with the awesome nutritionist Georgia Lienemann on old fashioned superfoods, too, that will go a long way to helping you on your fertility journey!
Real Food. Happy Bodies. Happy Planet. Healthy future babies!